e-Commerce Ascential for GSK Consumer

UK-based Ascential Digital Commerce and GSK Consumer Healthcare (soon to become Haleon) will next week launch Ascential Digital Commerce Connect at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The data-rich digital commerce platform provides clarity about GSK CH e-Commerce brand performance and improves reaction time to market dynamics in the rapidly growing e-Commerce market. The Connect platform analyses, visualises and displays marketing data about each brand and competitor to monitor key activities and answer marketers’ key questions when it comes to:

  • Understanding the current brand / sales performance in the e-Commerce marketplace – standalone vs key competitors and owned channels vs major online retailers like Amazon and Alibaba
  • Dissecting what brand health looks like regionally throughout EMEA, USA / N America, Asia-Pacific & Latin America
  • Navigating potential challenges and outages around supply chain, R&D, disruptive markets and other key metrics
  • More accurately calculating marketing spending as a percentage of gross revenue

GSK CH expects that e-Commerce growth will reach the mid-teens percentage of the business by 2025, making it a priority channel to drive overall sales.

Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: Duncan Painter, the CEO of Ascential, is right when he says: “The next five years represent a tipping point in the retail industry. Retailers and brands with the deepest, most recent insights into the digital performance of their products and services will gain an informed, competitive edge.” There is an insatiable demand for e-Commerce data in the consumer healthcare market, and I’ve just signed off on a very substantial budget – at least by our standards – to buy in and provide improved e-Comms data to our client base, which I am very pleased to say for the first time ever now includes all six of the top CHC players.

e-Commerce accounted for 14% of all CHC sales in 2021 and this share is forecast to exactly double in the next decade, with a higher achievement in Asia, especially China. Some analysts are even more bullish – one we’ve looked at and rejected put e-Comms so high that the only outcome would be the complete collapse of the store retailer sector, and surely that is not going to happen! Indeed, we hear numerous reports of a revival of consumer interest in the physical shopping experience. Nevertheless, e-Commerce is part of the Future Resumed, as we now call the New Paradigm for CHC, but in a subtle omni-mix of physical and digital shopping that offers the maximum flexibility and choice to consumers wishing to self-medicate.

Stay tuned for the first edition of the agenda for our Asia-Pacific e-Conference, to be hosted by Nicholas and the team on 23 November! As well as exploring expanding possibilities in CHC within the region, this event will also include the presentation of our Regional CHC Creative Marketing Award. For more information, or to register, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

GSK eyes CBD market with Cann partnership

Cann Group has entered into an exclusive evaluation & option agreement with GSK Consumer Healthcare in relation to the potential commercialisation of Satipharm CBD capsules for OTC (S3, Pharmacist-only) distribution in Australia. GSK also has potential interest in first rights to negotiate exclusivity periods to assess its interest in taking up commercialisation rights in other markets globally. Cann has granted GSK the exclusive right to evaluate Satipharm (excluding Cann’s Rx CBD products) for 60 days after the delivery of Cann’s final clinical study report.

In consideration of this, GSK will pay Cann £100,000 (US$130,437) as a non-refundable payment. Key terms of any definitive sales & marketing agreement will be contingent on factors including the results of the 4-week Phase 3 clinical trial and path to regulatory approval, as well as GSK’s marketing evaluation. Recruitment for the trial, which will examine the efficacy of Satipharm for the short-term treatment of sleep disturbances and quality of life outcomes, is in progress and the results are expected in H2 2022.

As highlighted in our recently published Innovation in CHC report, global launch activity for CBD products has dropped off substantially over the past two years since the pandemic. Regulatory uncertainty also still hovers over the status of CBD in the key US market, another factor in NPD dropping sharply there. In the near future, we expect there to be a greater emphasis on quality over quantity. Further clinical backing for CBD and other cannabinoids – in the way GSK is pursuing with this Cann partnership – will be crucial to this next phase in the maturity of the category.

Source: Nicholas Hall’s CHC New Products Tracker

Nicholas Hall Writes: “This is a very important story. As Peter Crock, the Cann CEO, says: “Cann’s ability to produce a CBD capsule that presents as a regular pharmaceutical and has proven benefits in terms of stability and bioavailability has attracted interest from a number of potential distribution partners. We are delighted to have this opportunity to work with GSK Consumer Healthcare, which would bring industry-leading expertise and market access to our CBD product platform if we enter into a definitive exclusive agreement.”

Alright, it’s not a done deal yet, but there is an expectation that it will be concluded for Australia, and possibly other markets. It is highly significant in many ways:

  1. It’s the first major move since Australia approved CBD for certain OTC indications in February 2021 
  2. With all due deference to Nestlé, it’s the first instance of a major CHC company taking a direct interest in the CBD market
  3. There is some real science involved
  4. The sleep indication will be a sure-fire winner in a category that grew 13.2% in 2021 and still has massive unmet consumer demand

And finally, is it a sign of the greater freedom that the independent Haleon will have to enter “difficult” categories, which might not be possible for an affiliate of Big Pharma? All in all, this is a bold move, and one I hope will succeed.

We are pleased to announce that the latest edition of Innovation in CHC from CHC New Products Tracker is now published! This report showcases 100 major innovations from 2021, profiles best-in-class brands and highlights key ingredient and delivery format trends. To order your copy now, or for more information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Unilever still seeking expansion in CHC

Pressure has been building on Unilever over the weekend, with Nelson Peltz’s activist hedge fund Trian Partners reportedly taking a position in the UK group’s shares, adding to the challenges facing CEO Alan Jope. The Unilever boss is already facing brewing shareholder discontent after its attempted takeover of GSK Consumer Health, and now confronts a fierce activist fund known for demanding streamlining and governance reforms at consumer goods groups including P&G, Sysco and Mondelez.

Following a third unsolicited bid for GSK’s Consumer Healthcare business last week, Unilever brought forward an update setting out its strategic direction. An extensive review by the Board to reposition Unilever’s portfolio into higher-growth categories concluded that the FMCG player’s future strategic direction lies in “materially expanding its presence in health, beauty and hygiene”. The company added that consumer health was a “highly complementary category, with good potential for synergies and a number of routes to build scale”.

As our CHC New Products Tracker tool indicates, the priority brand for Unilever over the past two years has been supplement Olly, which has been expanded beyond its initial US launch market into the key growth market of China. Unilever has also invested in NPD for fellow supplements SmartyPants and Liquid I.V., since acquiring both brands in 2020, as well as Derma brands Vaseline and Lifebuoy, and there is clear scope for Unilever to expand its CHC portfolio further both geographically and in terms of category focus.

Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: Unilever’s latest offer for GSK CH, received in December 2021, was for a total value of £50bn (US$68bn), which the GSK Board unanimously concluded “fundamentally undervalued the business and its future prospects”. Following the publication of Unilever’s strategy update, it initially looked like the company would make a sweetened offer. It stated: “GSK CH would be a strong strategic fit; 45% is in oral care and VMS — categories in which Unilever already has presence and substantial capabilities. OTC would be an attractive adjacent category, with the ability to combine Unilever’s consumer and branding expertise with GSK CH’s technical OTC capabilities.”

However, Unilever faced a growing backlash from investors, with its shares falling and ratings agency Fitch warning it could downgrade the company’s “A” credit rating if it proceeded with the deal, which would likely raise debt. A few days later, the company announced: “We note the recently-shared financial assumptions from the current owners of GSK CH and have determined that it does not change our view on fundamental value. Accordingly, we will not increase our offer above £50bn (US$68bn).

Unilever has laid its cards on the table though and will no doubt be on the lookout for another CHC target. Meanwhile, GSK maintains that the “focus remains on executing the proposed demerger, which is on track to be achieved in mid-2022”, although analysts note that the MNC may consider a deal worth around £60bn (US$82bn). It remains to be seen whether other suitors, potentially thought to include Nestlé and private equity, will make a move.

Innovation trends by region will be analysed in the latest edition of Innovation in CHC from CHC New Products Tracker. This report will also take a look at delivery format trends, offer the Top 100 innovations from 2021, as well as innovation by leading marketers. To pre-order your copy and save with the pre-publication discount, or for further information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Jeffries London Healthcare Conference

Nicholas Hall’s Touchpoints: On 19th November, it was my great pleasure to moderate the CHC panel at the Jefferies conference. My distinguished panellists were two experienced CHC war horses: Roger Scarlett-Smith, Executive VP UK & USA, Stada, and President UK at Thornton & Ross, part of the Stada group, and formerly a very senior manager at GSK; and Pat Smallcombe, Chairman of Karo Consumer Healthcare and a former Pfizer and J&J top executive. Here follows a summary: 

  • Separation of J&J’s Consumer Health business presents a great opportunity for a company of that size. The CH unit has focused on increasing profitability & market attractiveness and has gone from underperforming from a P&L perspective to growing sales and shares. The agility, cadence & skill sets required for CH, which needs to act more locally, are different to more global, science-led Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices units. The question is if the separation, which will take several years, will detract from the focus on the market 
  • Ongoing impact of Covid varies by category, but the industry is at a crossroads. The huge increase in sales of vitamin D3 & immunity boosters is holding. Half-year data show treatment products are growing very strongly for the first time in many years, particularly in N America, although it is too early to say if this is the beginning of a longer-term trend. Meanwhile, Covid has accelerated trends that were already happening such as sustainability and a preference for trusted brands; the influence of HCPs has increased relative to influencers. In Health & Beauty, the fastest growing sub-category as an idea is vegan endorsement
  • Disproportionate surge in e-Commerce has been driven by the pandemic and is now running at around 12% of the CHC market; DB6 estimates this will double in the next 10 years. Any company that does not have an e-Commerce position will be in trouble in the long-term. Amazon is particularly popular in Germany, UK & USA, although several companies are aiming for a brand.com approach. However, increasing traffic to those sites and setting up an operation like Amazon is extremely expensive. It remains to be seen though if consumers return to physical stores if they do not have to shop online. In a related issue, there has been little evidence of price comparisons in different markets; this is probably more of a trade issue
  • Personalised healthcare has big opportunities, but we are still at the front end. Consumers are sceptical about who owns the healthcare data; they are more trustful of HCPs than tech or pharma companies. At this stage, it is hard to see the return on investments and there are plenty of other areas for growth 
  • M&A moving forwards is an area of interest as recent deals have been positive, with encouraging multiples and stable businesses. The healthcare technology area is also interesting. There is a rich appetite around consolidation. There will be more spin offs, with MNCs offering underutilised assets, such as Nizoral & Compeed, which, with increased A+P, have huge salient equity with consumers. Whether M&A is replacing R&D and NPD is a good question; there must be the right combination of internally-generated innovation vs externally-generated innovation
  • Biggest white space in the CHC market may be a cultural white space where you can execute with reliability, high quality and good customer service, while retaining an entrepreneurial localisation spirit. Getting closer to the consumer and being more relevant using digitalisation is also key, as is being more focused at the right time, with the right product, in the right way

This summary doesn’t do full justice to the wisdom and erudition of the panellists, with a small amount of support by myself. If you would like to hear the whole 45-minute session, please click on the link here.

APAC E-Conference 2021 Awards

Commenting on our recent APAC e-Conference 2021, Nicholas Hall said: “This was a highly successful conference, with over 100 participants, but I can genuinely say that I hope it’s our last of this kind as I can’t wait to get back to face-to-face meetings next year in Athens, New Jersey and Singapore.”

  • The Nicholas Hall APAC Marketing Award 2021 was decided by delegates and The Winner was GSK’s “Panadol Take Care” campaign, which resulted in “record-breaking” market share and consumption growth. The campaign comprised two key elements: education on post-vaccination pain & fever and the role of Panadol in providing suitable and efficacious care for these symptoms. In addition to TV, promotion included traditional media channels; partnerships with Pandamart, Uber and Grab offering 30-60 minute delivery services for post-vaccination symptom management; social media activity; an online expert care portal; strong in-store visibility; a Take Care Chatbot; and out-of-home ads close to vaccination centres. 
  • 2nd place: Redoxon (Bayer) The “Ces Before Cus” campaign was implemented in Indonesia to help the vitamin fight back against increased competition during the pandemic and help consumers “be new normal ready” by boosting immunity and giving them more confidence when carrying out daily activities in the Covid era. “Ces” is the noise that Redoxon makes when dissolving in water and “cus” is Indonesian slang for “Let’s go!”
  • 3rd place: Eye-Mo (Combiphar) Following a return to the Singaporean market in 2017, it was noted that Millennials did not have a strong connection with the brand. Combiphar turned this around with the growth-driving “I See What I Want” campaign, fronted by teen singer Aden Tan, which aimed to empower the younger generation by helping them rebound from negativities and see “the brighter side of life”.

Review the full proceedings from our APAC e-Conference 2021 conference by purchasing a copy of the event recording. For more details, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

Nestlé targets doubling of e-Commerce sales by 2025

By 2025, Nestlé expects to nearly double its e-Commerce sales to 25% of group total by significantly increasing its digital marketing spend, reports Reuters. The size of the investment was not disclosed. In Q1-3 2021, Nestlé sales were CHF63.3bn (US$68.3bn), with e-Commerce, which grew 17.2% in that period, reaching 14.1% of total sales. On the back of the success of DtC sales of products such as Nespresso coffee pods (Nespresso.com) and Purina PetCare (Purina.co.uk), the company will use a similar model. Speaking at a virtual investor summit, Executive VP Bernard Meunier said markets such as USA, Europe and China would drive growth. 

Nicholas Hall commented: This is high ambition by Nestlé, bearing in mind that many of its brand leaders are available very widely through retail outlets. Whether its CHC business can also reach this level internationally is a moot point, but in its favour Nestlé competes mainly in the VMS sector, where there are lower regulatory hurdles governing e-Commerce in more conservative countries, so maybe it is a fair ambition. And why not, when we ourselves forecast that e-Commerce will hold a 23% share of the entire global CHC market by 2030?

e-Commerce has had an amazing ride in the past ten years, with very few headwinds and the Gulfstream equivalent caused by the Covid lockdown, but the latest news from China implies that this trend may not continue in such a dynamic way in future. To quote from the unusually downbeat Alibaba: “The extremely high growth that China’s overall e-Commerce market has experienced in recent years is getting harder to maintain following government crackdowns on internet retailing this year.” Perhaps the e-Commerce sector has reached the inflexion point of all growth sectors when additional revenues have to be created rather than assumed.

Among the other top CHC players, the ratio of e-Commerce sales is generally on a par with Nestlé. In Q3 2021, Unilever and Reckitt announced that e-Commerce now accounts for 12% of group net revenues, while at GSK it represents 7% of sales. However, during a recent earnings call, Consumer Healthcare CEO Brian McNamara noted that in Q1-3 2021, e-Commerce had grown in the mid-20% range, adding: “Our ongoing investment in digital capabilities continues to position us well for growth in this key channel.” With online shopping clearly appealing to consumers and continuing to grow in popularity even as lockdowns ease, it is likely other companies will have similar targets to Nestlé’s in mind.

We are pleased to announce that the next title from Nicholas Hall’s Reports will focus on Herbals & Naturals. You will be able to review the latest trends, developments and sales, look at pure herbal & natural categories, along with products within topical analgesics, cough remedies, sleep aids, plus much more. To pre-order your copy and save up to GB£2,100, or for further information, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.

Sanofi results point to strong CHC rebound in Q2

Sanofi has raised its full year 2021 EPS guidance after reporting a 12.4% rise in sales (at constant exchange rates) in Q2 2021 to €8.7bn (US$10.3bn). Consumer Healthcare sales increased by 11.9% to €1.1bn (US$1.3bn), primarily reflecting a low base for comparison in the same period last year, as well as a strong performance of Digestive Wellness and Pain Care. This largely offset a weak cough & cold season.

Sales in USA increased by 12.5% to €287mn (US$341mn); Europe rose by 7.7% to €319mn (US$379mn); and Rest of the World was up 14.3% to €483mn (US$573mn). Digestive Wellness growth (+36.8%) was powered by strong performances from probiotic Enterogermina, antispasmodic Buscopan, laxative Dulcolax and liver care treatment Essentiale. Mental Wellness (+23.9%) and Pain Care (+20.6%) also generated high CHC growth for Sanofi in Q2, while other categories were either flat or declining.

Source: Sanofi

Nicholas Hall commented: I wrote last week that the first Q2 results were highly encouraging, but that we needed to wait for the other top players to report. This week we review a crop of additional results, and they do indeed confirm that sales are significantly ahead of Q2 2020; but it is noticeable that the latest reports are consistent in reminding us that sales in Q2 2020 were relatively weak, although consumer purchases remained strong. The real comparison is with Q2 2019, measured against which growth is much more modest, in the range of 3% CAGR. This managing of expectations is perfectly understandable as none of the companies wants to create aspirations that will be difficult to meet later on.

So how do we interpret this data from the top players? On the one hand, it’s disappointing as 3% is below the 4.1% benchmark we’ve created to judge market growth – a combination of population increase and inflation. On the other hand, the industry has come through its worst crisis in a generation, and although a lot of attention has been paid to the high-growth categories of immunity and disinfection, many more categories were adversely affected. Furthermore, we know that not all the top players are representative as typically they underperform the market, with the highest growth typically coming from local and regional players.

My take on this, combined with the upturn in our own business I outlined last week, is that we are feeling our way forward to a revival in consumer demand and indeed industry confidence. But there is a lot of lost time and opportunity to make up, and it does seem that the top echelon of the industry is responding by adapting its structure (for example, the spin-off of GSK Consumer) or streamlining the business – Sanofi, for example, has disposed of a number of tail brands, either by divestiture or creating new distribution arrangements.

Find the perfect candidate to complete your team with assistance from Nicholas Hall’s executive recruitment service CHC TalentSelect. With over 40 years’ experience in consumer healthcare and an extensive network of contacts, we can help you find the right person for the job. To start your search, please contact maricar.montero@NicholasHall.com.

Global CHC Market Movers, MAT Q1 2021

We have now published our latest Market Movers update on the CHC Dashboard website, highlighting 6 brands that have been driving growth in the global CHC market in the MAT Q1 2021 period, as well as 6 brands in fast decline, and below we look at the trends behind these exceptional brand performances.

Given that antiseptics & disinfectants were by far the biggest growth driver in the global CHC market in MAT Q1 2021, it’s no surprise that two of the six fastest-growing brands were hand sanitisers, Unilever’s Suave and ArtNaturals (ArtNaturals). Both were standout performers in the US market among a raft of new entries in the vibrant subcategory.

Rx-to-OTC switch has also been an important growth driver, with GSK’s May 2020 launch of topical analgesic Voltaren Arthritis Pain the notable development, generating sales in excess of US$100mn in under a year on the market. Former switch brand Plan B One-Step also performed exceptionally well in MAT Q1 2021, owing to limited access to prescribed contraception and family planning clinics during the pandemic. Foundation Consumer Healthcare also backed the brand with TV ads explaining it does not affect future fertility.

In China, the two fastest-growing CHC brands were Mayinglong Musk, a haemorrhoid preparation extended into new subcategories thanks to product innovation, and Fu Fang E Jiao Jiang, which marketer Dong-e E-jiao Group revived by returning to a policy of targeting general (not just high-end) consumers, helping ensure a return to growth overall for tonics & cure alls in China.

As for products that suffered falling sales in MAT Q1 2021, the clear majority (4 out of 6) were CCA brands, given the historically weak cough & cold season experienced by the industry in the first quarter of this year. Global No.1 brand Vicks posted further heavy decline in Q1, with MAT Q1 2021 sales falling by 24.5%; combo packs of Vicks NyQuil / DayQuil packs fell particularly hard (-54%).

Reckitt’s systemic cold & flu treatment Mucinex Fast-Max and cough remedy Delsym also suffered heavy decline in MAT Q1 2021, as did Taisho’s cold remedy Pabron in Japan, which was hit by the downturn for domestic and inbound channels attributable to Covid-related issues.

We are pleased to announce that Nicholas Hall’s North American e-Conference 2021 will take place on 21 September! Sponsored by Catalent, Nicholas will be joined by industry experts to explore Challenger Brands & Key Pillars to the New / Modern Marketing World. To register, or to find out more, please contact elizabeth.bernos@NicholasHall.com.

Rx-to-OTC switch drivers

Allergy and sexual health are two areas of the global CHC market that continue to expand in sales thanks to Rx to non-prescription switch activity in various markets. In Japan, the Ministry of Health, Labour & Welfare’s Evaluation (MHLW) Review Conference will discuss the potential Rx-to-OTC switch of emergency hormonal contraceptives at a meeting this week.

According to CHC Insight Asia-Pacific Senior Editor, Nicola Allan: “In June 2019, an MHLW steering committee permitted pharmacists to dispense EHCs during a face-to-face transaction after the consumer has had an online consultation with a doctor. Previously, the patient had to see a doctor face-to-face to obtain a prescription to give to the pharmacist. More than 9,000 pharmacists have undertaken training that allows them to participate in the new scheme, which has prompted the MHLW to consider further liberalisation of EHC sales.”

Meanwhile, in the UK, following an application from Sanofi, the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last week reclassified Nasacort Allergy Relief (triamcinolone acetonide 55mcg / dose) nasal spray from Pharmacy medicine to General Sales List. The suspension can be used for the relief of symptoms associated with seasonal allergic rhinitis, including sneezing, itchy and runny nose, itchy red or watery eyes, nasal congestion or sinus discomfort in adults aged 18+ years.

In terms of switch drivers, governments seeking to reduce healthcare costs remains a primary factor, but also important is the empowerment of consumers as they increasingly use digital solutions to improve and monitor their health, a trend that is being leveraged into test & treat models. Commenting on the just-published Rx-to-OTC Switch Hot Topic Report, CIMA Senior Market Analyst Victoria Blake said the report “considers the impact of Covid on struggling healthcare systems, and the increased burden on the undertreated population. While traditional mechanisms have proved too slow in recent years, the next generation of switches – such as statins, triptans, oral contraceptives and CBD – require new thinking and a different approach.”

According to Nicholas Hall, “we could be entering a Golden Age. Voltaren Arthritis Pain Relief Gel’s successful US launch; OTC approval for low-dose cannabis in Australia; the possibility of OTC oral contraceptives in a major Western market for the first time; plus recent statements by Sanofi on the likely switches of the antiviral Tamiflu and the erectile dysfunction treatment Cialis. These are just the tonic this industry needs as the recovery from Covid gets underway.”

Our hot topic report Rx-to-OTC Switch is now published! Written by Nicholas Hall’s CIMA team in association with switch expert Joe McGovern of Biograph Inc, you can access information on the historic and current switch environments in key global markets, including an overview of pipeline and strategic considerations. For more information, or to purchase your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com

Q1 2021 Results: CCA Round-up

Five of the Top 6 global CHC marketers have now reported their Q1 2021 results, and the clear common theme is a difficult start to the year as a result of the downturn in cough, cold & allergy sales. Global No.1 GSK reported that Consumer Healthcare sales were down 9% as a direct result of the year-on-year “pantry-loading” comparison, including accelerated purchases across all categories driven by the pandemic, combined with a historically weak cold & flu season. GSK’s Respiratory Health portfolio was down 42% in Q1, with Theraflu and Robitussin declining in double-digits, and Contac hit by a high single-digit fall, all adversely impacted by a lower cold & flu season.

Global No.2 J&J reported that Consumer Health worldwide operational sales were down 2.9%, primarily driven by negative prior-year comparisons related to Covid pantry loading in Q1 2020, mainly in OTC products, which declined by 14.8% in Q1 2021 as a result of lower cough, cold & flu incidences. This was partially offset by growth in Listerine mouthwash, Johnson’s baby care products, international skin health / beauty products and Nicorette sales outside the USA.

Sanofi’s Consumer Healthcare sales decreased by 7.3% in Q1 2021, primarily reflecting the weak cough / cold season, as well as a high base for comparison in Q1 2020 and divestments of non-core products. Allergy fell by 6.2%, while Cough & Cold sales were down 59.4% in Q1 2021. This heavy decline was offset by gains for Digestive Wellness (+14.6%), Physical Wellness and Mental Wellness (+18.8%) products. In USA and Rest of the World, growth of the Digestive and Mental Wellness categories partially offset lower Cough / Cold and Pain sales, but in Europe CHC sales fell by 19.3% in Q1.

Reckitt Q1 2021 net revenue was up 4.1% (like-for-like), and e-Commerce was +24%, accounting for 13% of total net revenue, driven by increased investment. Health fell 13.0%, reflecting a volume decline of 14.2% and price / mix improvements of 1.2%, as overall price growth was offset by relatively higher trade investment in North America. The OTC portfolio fell by just under 40%; in addition to challenging comparatives owing to significant pantry-loading in March 2020, this reflects an exceptionally weak cough, cold & flu season – estimated to be around 90% lower than the prior year – resulting in declines for Strepsils, Nurofen and Mucinex.

P&G’s Health Care organic sales were up 3% in Q1 2021, while Personal Health Care organic sales fell by mid-single digits, primarily owing to pandemic-related increases in consumer and retailer inventories in the base period and a weaker than average cough, cold & flu season. Representing 14% of global sales, e-Commerce sales increased by around 50% fiscal year-to-date, with no noticeable change in shopping trends in the quarter. CFO Andre Schulten said in an earnings call that a portion of the impact of commodity cost challenges in the next fiscal year would be offset with price increases in the baby care, feminine care and adult incontinence businesses, which will go into effect in mid-September 2021.

Celine Waller VP, DB6 comments: The poor CHC results reported were set against a robust performance in Q1 2020 when consumers were stockpiling ahead of lockdown restrictions (J&J’s OTC business increased operationally by 25.8% in Q1 2020!) and we expect that they will improve as the year goes on. However, 2021 is expected to be affected by a very weak cough / cold season as lockdowns (still in effect in many markets), social distancing, hygiene measures and mask-wearing continue to suppress incidence of respiratory illnesses, while there are some doubts about whether the high consumption levels of disinfectants and immune-boosting supplements can be sustained. As such, we have lowered our expectations of CHC growth in 2021 to 2.3% in the retail market. However, as highlighted in the P&G results, the 2020 boom in e-Commerce sales is continuing into the current year and we forecast that combined CHC sales in all channels will come out at a respectable 4.0% in 2021.

We are pleased to announce that our annual bestselling report, Nicholas Hall’s CHC Yearbook 2021, is now published digitally! You can analyse key players’ performance, hot topics, global retailing, the Top 15 markets and much more! Print copies will follow soon. For more information, or to order your copy, please contact melissa.lee@NicholasHall.com.